Oberlin Blogs


September 2, 2009

Joe Dawson ’12

I'm the kind of person who enjoys anticipation. I do like getting new stuff and experiencing new adventures, but I also really enjoy thinking about them before they happen. Maybe that doesn't make sense. When I'm shopping for something I really want but don't necessarily need, I kind of agonize over the thing, sit on it, dream about it, even if my mind is pretty much made up about the thing. I thought about making a bamboo bike a long time before I actually did it. Why? Once I've taken time to do it, it's done. I can tell people 'Hey, I made a bamboo bike' instead of 'Hey, I wanted to make a bamboo bike once.' I think my expectations are more enjoyable, maybe that's why. If what I've bought or made is below my expectations, it's disappointing. Part of the whole college experience is practice, making successes and mistakes you can file away in your experience rolodex and pull out in the future. My bamboo bike, the winter term project from last year, was a disaster as far as being a serviceable bicycle goes. It was pretty (picture), and most importantly, it was the sum of all of my mistakes, adjustments, and concessions that I made over the month of January. On the Antiques Roadshow, they would say it has great sentimental value, but wouldn't fetch very much 'at auction.' They would say exactly that. That's what they say every time they see a piece of crap someone is sure is worth like a million dollars. Like a little boy from Missouri, cock-sure and smiling because the 'pirate sword' his grandma gave him was going to be a new treasure, but was actually bought in Chinatown in the late 1980s.

As I mentioned not long ago, I believe I might maybe possibly have a major: Biology. As of today, I have no classes in the Biology department this semester, but I am actually excited about the classes I do have. Weird, huh? I have a pretty wide range of subjects, like Elizabethan Literature and Introduction to Neuroscience, and none of my classes are in the departments I've ever taken classes in before. Elizabethan Literature features Professor Wendy Hyman, who is brand spanking new at Oberlin, and who seems super excited just to be here and to be teaching about a subject she loves. For Sociology, my second class Monday mornings, I have Professor Clovis White, who described himself as an "old fart" and has been here twenty years or more. The man looks like he is about thirty-five, so I don't know how he was hired as a fifteen-year-old around the time I was born. He also seems really enthusiastic about racism and ethical dilemmas in society (not excited about racism, like 'Whoo don't let Chinese people play weasel ball!' just interested in the topic and its effect on society). Tuesdays/Thursdays I have Neuroscience, but not until 11:00, which is super. It is team taught by Professors Kara Kile and Katie Caldwell, both relatively new (and both from nearby Case Western Reserve). Even on the first day I can tell that this class is going to be jam-packed with chewy brainy goodness. We took two pages of notes on the first day, how crazy is that? In the afternoons Tue./Thurs. I have Environmental Studies 101, which is not exactly the class I thought it would be. Rumi Shammin (awesome name) teaches this one. The emphasis is on the interaction between society and the environment, and the class involves a lot of projects (like researching and proposing sustainable possibilities in Oberlin the town and Oberlin the school) and discussion. The lecture hall in the AJLC had 80 people in it, almost half of them on the waitlist for this class with a maximum enrollment of 44. Wednesday I have Neuro lab in the afternoon. The teacher announced today that we will be performing surgery on rats before the end of the semester. No matter your feelings on experimentation with animals, that is one of the coolest things I found out today.

I may even be more excited for what's going on outside of classes! More on this later. Toodles!

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